Ximian Announces Open Source Initiative to Develop a Linux Platform for .NET

Mono Project to Enable Linux Developers to Build and Deploy Cross Platform .NET Applications

Boston, Mass., July 9, 2001 — Ximian, Inc., the leading open source desktop company, today announced the formation of the Mono Project, a community initiative to develop an open source, Linux-based version of the Microsoft .NET development platform. Incorporating key .NET compliant components, including a C# (pronounced C-sharp) compiler, a Common Language Runtime just-in-time compiler, and a full suite of class libraries, the Mono Project will enable developers to create .NET applications and run them on Windows or any Mono-supported platform, including Linux and Unix. Besides greatly improving the efficiency of open source software development, the Mono Project will allow the creation of operating system-independent programs. Miguel de Icaza, Ximian CTO and president of the GNOME Foundation, will introduce the Mono Project during a presentation at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (July 23 - July 27) in San Diego.

Ximian is spearheading the Mono Project, which is based on the company's own efforts as well as the work and contributions of others in the Free Software and open source communities. The Mono Project will allow the creation of both graphical user interfaces through GNOME components and the creation of server applications and Web services. The source code will be released under open source licenses (the General Public License, or GPL, and the Lesser General Public License, or LGPL) to accelerate the completion of the fully .NET compliant runtime and development environment.

"We are taking the lead in providing an upgraded development platform that enables Unix and Linux developers to capitalize on the .NET framework proposed by Microsoft. By reusing much of the work of the GNU and GNOME projects, we can greatly accelerate the development process," said Miguel de Icaza, co-founder and chief technical officer at Ximian. "There is so much potential inherent in Web services and this new development platform, and with this initiative the entire open source community can build a platform that will expand these benefits to the Linux world."

.NET Compatible Development Tools for Linux

Microsoft .NET is a broad-based initiative to provide development tools for both GUI applications and Web services (.NET Development Framework), and a user identity and authentication system ("Hailstorm") to offer end user applications as web services and a number of other company products.

The .NET development tools, which include the C# compiler and Common Language Infrastructure (CLI), let programs written in C# and other languages run on non-Windows operating systems. Microsoft and Corel recently announced that they would collaborate in making these available on the FreeBSD platform under the terms of the Microsoft "shared source" license.

"Unfortunately, while C# and CLI have been submitted to the ECMA and W3C standards bodies, the limitations of the 'shared source' license impede the development and deployment of commercial applications on other platforms, such as Linux, Solaris and UNIX," said de Icaza. "The joint Microsoft and Corel effort also does not provide support for GUI applications and database access."

In contrast, the Mono Project development platform provides open source developers with a true "build once, deploy anywhere" tool set, taking advantage of the myriad of services enabled by Microsoft .NET. Under the terms of the GPL and the LGPL licenses used by the Mono Project, developers can write and distribute commercial and proprietary applications, something that is not possible with the Microsoft shared source license.

The Mono Project will provide three key elements in a development framework designed to allow developers to quickly create, deploy and run .NET compatible applications on the Linux platform. A C# compiler extending the GNOME development platform will allow Linux developers to create .NET compatible applications. These developers will also be able to build upon a complete implementation of class libraries compatible with the Microsoft CLI, enabling developers to create end-user applications as well as powerful Web services using the database functionality available on open source systems. Last, a Linux version of the Common Language Run-Time (CLR) just-in-time (JIT) run-time engine will allow Linux systems to run .NET applications built on Windows, Linux or UNIX platforms. As the momentum of open source contributors to the Mono project builds, the tools and libraries they produce are expected to be available in the middle of next year.

Industry Leaders Endorse Project, Applaud Interoperability and Choice

"Momentum has been building in the open source community to extend the .NET development framework to new platforms without the strings of Microsoft's shared source program," said Bruce Perens, strategic advisor to the Hewlett Packard Linux Systems Operation. "With this announcement by Ximian, we can expect a groundswell of support from open source developers to build a true, no strings attached, cross-platform implementation."

A similar assessment was voiced by Michael Tiemann, chief technical officer at Red Hat. "The best way to ensure the integrity of .NET is to see whether it's possible to create a high-quality alternative implementation based on the specification," said Tiemann. "The Mono project, protected with GPL licensing, will ensure that communications about the strengths, weaknesses, and outright flaws in the .NET architecture can be intelligently discussed and responsibly executed."

Key leaders within the open source community also welcomed the announcement of the Mono Project. "This is a defining moment for the open source community and Linux," said Tim O'Reilly, president of O'Reilly and Associates. "The Internet infrastructure has always been based on open source. The Mono Project is an essential step in making sure that remains true as the Internet evolves. We're excited that our Open Source Conference in San Diego will introduce this exciting project to developers worldwide."

Leading developers emphasized the importance of the Mono Project in bringing choice to developers and users alike. "We've seen time and again that without choice developers become dependent on platform vendors, markets stagnate, and progress grinds to a halt," noted Dave Winer, founder of UserLand Software. "We're grateful that Miguel de Icaza, Ximian and the Mono Project team are working alongside Microsoft to be sure that the .NET platform achieves its great potential and that developers have choice."

About Ximian

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Ximian (formerly Helix Code, Inc.) builds Ximian GNOME, the world's most user- friendly and cost-effective Internet desktop. In use by more than 600,000 people, the company's software adds an attractive and easy-to-use interface to the power of Linux and Unix operating systems. Ximian is pursuing an aggressive plan of open source application development, providing technology, support, and network services to the Linux and Unix marketplace. Ximian, comprised of many of the original architects of the GNOME system, is a founding member of the GNOME foundation and sits on the advisory board. The company has secured funding from leading VC firms Charles River Ventures and Battery Ventures. For more information, visit the ximian website.

Ximian is a trademark of Ximian, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. The names of other companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.